Heads up, eurythmy!

Since September 2020, the eurythmist Vera Koppehel has been coming to Darmstadt every two weeks; she has designed three group courses for a total of around 30 employees as well as individual classes for about half of these colleagues. The positive feedback from this year’s annual meeting allowed us to pick up on the desire to become more familiar with the effects of eurythmy. “We want to incorporate more movement and rhythm into our work,” explains Executive Managing Director Peter Augustin. “Because we all stare at screens for an incredible number of hours, whether on a computer or our mobile phone. We are always sitting at our desks or in meetings, and we work at the pace set by e-mail programmes, calendars, and to-do lists. But that pace is not alive – rhythm is alive!” In addition to external movement, inner movement is of great importance. Augustin continues: “To put yourself in someone else’s shoes, to think and try new things – those elements are especially important in an organisation that is as complex as ours. Moreover, there is a preventative healthcare aspect. We are also inherently responsible to our employees in that regard as well.”

After an initial test run, Vera Koppehel designed three group offers with different focal points: stimulating and motivating movements, strengthening and balancing effect or a concentration-enhancing approach. Meditative elements and practical tips for everyday office life, such as exercises for tense shoulders, strained eyes or hands, are also included. “Since I have already found eurythmy to be extremely beneficial in other contexts, I was naturally curious as to how it would go in this form,” says Christine Hueß, Head of Communications. “By chance, my course mainly included colleagues with whom I would not usually work so closely. I was amazed that it nevertheless went swimmingly and that practising in the group was very seamless. Without many words, simply by doing the same things.” Even when the programme could only be held virtually via video stream due to Vera Koppehel’s difficulty making travel arrangements, the participants’ response was positive.

Teambuilding and more
“I wouldn’t have thought that eurythmy would have such an effect,” admits Susanne Bach-Kramesch, who is the employee responsible for auditing. “It increases concentration and is relaxing. Depending on the exercise, you become more alert or your breathing becomes calmer. In our course, the whole thing also has a team-building aspect because we do some exercises where we have to pay attention to the others.” Irene Seeligmüller, who works in project management and has also received individual classes in addition to the group exercises, has had a similar experience. “Although both formats are very different for me, how I feel mentally and physically after the classes is absolutely comparable,” she says. “It is also a special experience for me to join my fellow board members and colleagues in moving together.” Executive Assistant Franziska Evans is also surprised at how intensive the exercises are: “I found them to be reassuring and stimulating. The first group class made me feel satisfied for a long time.”

“For me, it is important that eurythmy be a part of life and working rather than perceived as a short aside,” says Vera Koppehel, describing her approach. “That seems to be what is actually happening here. There is feedback that the working atmosphere is changing for the better, that people are more mindful of each other, more approachable and attentive. It’s actually amazing because we don’t spend that much time together.” In the individual classes, the topics range from health to biographical challenges to spiritual questions. “I think many employees feel that the potential of eurythmy goes far beyond traditional preventative healthcare,” says the eurythmist. “It is impressive that this is perceived so acutely and described so astutely.”

Suitable for everyday and long-term practice
Project Manager Christian Wüst explains with a smile that he had already completed basic eurythmy training as a Waldorf student. Later, he received additional ‘training’ in healing eurythmy, which significantly alleviated his hay fever. “I wanted to build on that,” he says. “I am particularly impressed to see the different qualities of the movements that Vera Koppehel indicated to us. For me personally, eurythmy continues to be effective as I try to practice the movements regularly.”

After a short period of repetition, it was also easy for Communications employee Kim Schönborn to flexibly integrate the momentum from the group and individual classes into her everyday life. “That way, I always have the tool for balance with me,” she says. At the same time, she also found practising with a group to be particularly valuable: “It has allowed me to get to know my colleagues once again in a completely new way. Especially the coordinative exercises, which are about aligning with others and finding a common rhythm, were very impressive.”

Project Manager Cornelius Sträßer was introduced to eurythmy at day care and school, and he continued to practice it while working on his degree and later as an adult. “Eurythmy helps me to harness forces and establish a connection between my body and mind,” he says about his experience. “It creates a sense of inner harmony, serenity and calmness, but also freshness and awareness, which lasts even a few hours after the exercises.” Moreover, he also experiences positive effects on his breathing and heat balance, such as warming his hands and feet.

Exploring potentials
“Although eurythmy is more than a hundred years old, it seems as if its possibilities are only now really being recognised, which is also substantiated by the many articles on the subject in our Foundation magazine,” says Peter Augustin. “Even though offers such as social eurythmy for companies have been around for a long time, we are breaking new ground with Vera Koppehel.” For him, therefore, it is essential to investigate, to try together whether and how eurythmy can affect the Foundation’s processes. Augustin himself does some exercises every morning and evening at home, revealing: “I also peppered some eurythmy into longer online meetings during the first lockdown. I would just hold a sign up in front of the camera saying, ‘Heads up, eurythmy!’. Then we would all stand up and perform a few vital eurythmy exercises.” The relaxing effect was immediate, and everyone felt refreshed and more focused. If you enter Augustin's office, he'll throw you a copper eurythmy stick. “Often those who are surprised by this burst out laughing,” he says. “That’s great: laughing eurythmy instead of laughing yoga! Moreover, since our group eurythmy classes, I can say that I look at the others more benevolently. That’s a lot of gains, I would say.”